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Saturday 23 March 2019

That’s a bit rich! Tax-cheat Mick Wallace wants workers to pay more taxes

Mick Wallace
Mick Wallace

Michael Brennan

INDEPENDENT TD Mick Wallace who owes the banks €40m, has called on workers to pay more taxes – even as he stalls on providing information about his company's €2.1m tax settlement with the Revenue.

He also criticised the salary of an incoming semi-state chief executive.

That is despite almost doubling the salaries paid to himself and his son by his construction company just four years ago.

The former property developer owes €40m to banks and his company owes €2.1m to the Revenue. But in an astonishing Dail contribution, he ignored his company's tax bill while pushing for income tax hikes on higher-paid workers in the next Budget.

"One of the few promises the Government has kept is that it has not touched income tax. Perhaps it should consider breaking that promise and increase the tax rate for higher earners," he said.

Mr Wallace went on to criticise NAMA for not having "much accountability or transparency" -- even though he himself failed yesterday for the third week in a row to provide information about his company's €2.1m tax settlement to a Dail committee.

The Independent Wexford TD has still not revealed if the settlement was agreed after he was elected a TD, which would allow the Dail committee on members' interests to investigate him. And he has not given the committee permission to access the Revenue file on the case -- which will otherwise be withheld on the grounds of taxpayer confidentiality.

The committee yesterday called off its planned meeting after receiving an email from Mr Wallace's solicitors requesting more time so that he could put together the necessary documentation.

But Mr Wallace did not state how much time he needed -- so the committee is now writing back to his solicitors to find this out.

Independent Donegal South West TD Thomas Pringle, who chairs the committee, confirmed it would be meeting again soon to discuss the issue.


During his Dail contribution yesterday, Mr Wallace also criticised the decision to breach the €200,000 public sector pay cap for the incoming VHI chief executive John O'Dwyer.

"In the current climate and given all the cuts endured by people who are hurt most by the austerity, to give this individual more than €200,000 is not good enough," he said.

But as recently as 2008, Mr Wallace and his eldest son, Sasha, almost doubled their shared salary payment from their M&J Wallace construction company.

It went up from €148,000 to around €289,000, with Mr Wallace saying that most of this went towards paying mortgages.

That same year, the company made a loss of €2.7m. It also failed to put pension contributions made by its workers into the construction pension scheme -- which led to Mr Wallace later getting a €7,000 court fine.

M&J Wallace went into receivership last July and a judgment of €19.4m was obtained against it by ACC Bank last November.

Mr Wallace has admitted that a number of sub-contractors have been left owing money as a result.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin responded to Mr Wallace's comments yesterday by saying that he should be careful talking about salary levels. During the Dail debate, he also pointedly said that "people should pay their taxes".

"I do not wish to make any comment about Deputy Wallace but all of us must be mindful of how our actions are perceived," he said.

Mr Wallace is one of nine opposition TDs who are urging householders not to pay the €100 household charge. But last month he was forced to apologise to the public, his fellow TDs and to his constituents in Wexford for his "error of judgment" in withholding €1.4m in VAT owed by his company to the Revenue on apartment sales in 2008 and 2009.

He never revealed this information to voters in Wexford when he decided to run in last year's general election.

Mr Wallace has resigned from the Technical Group of Independent and small party TDs, who had been embarrassed by the revelations of his tax settlement.

He was also removed as the Technical Group's representative on two Dail committees last week and replaced by United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Independent Waterford TD John Halligan.

Irish Independent

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